Friday, November 07, 2008

Quantum of Solace: Review

Review of the latest Bond movie. Those who had not seen it, better don't read it now. It may have spoilers.

If CR is a legitimate standalone film, would QOS be Godfather II, or Star Wars: TESB? Well, sadly it would be Superman II…which is not bad, but not as good as the first.

Where do I start? Allow me to break it into elements that we normally would like to look out for in the Bond films.

Script.
Convoluted? Nope, pretty straight forward…a slight rehash of LTK, its padded with more action sequences that actually slows down the progress of the story…which is not that great either. Problem is, in CR they had great source material to work it and in QOS, they had to go back to cooking their own little dish. And this time, its revenge dish…not necessarily the first time in the films history. Not entirely original, since Fleming dealt with it in YOLT, and the filmmakers had earlier dealt with it in LTK (I am pretending that Brosnan Bond never happened, so to hell with TWINE etc).

Speaking of LTK, in QOS, M asks Bond to hand over the weapon, then Bond escapes by kicking the MI6 dudes, and jump over the balcony. Is that Déjà vu or the scriptwriters were just plain lazy.

So, you have a pretty so and so script to work with, and the problem is tossed to…

Direction
Forster did a good job, when the scenes are quiet, introspective, exploring a bit of Bond’s psyche. Marred by overlong and too frequent action scenes, this could have made a more intelligent film if there were more brainwork, instead of gunwork, involved in what could have been a wonderful sequel to CR. I hear Forster might return to Bond 23, so I hope he would pay more attention to the criticism on the action scenes, and help to come up with stronger, more intelligent film.

Action
Bourne? Before Greengrass there was Bruckheimer, Bay and West. At that time (90s seems far away now), the style was referred to as “MTV style of quick cutting and shooting”. Shaky cam included. And for you kids out there, go and watch The Rock, and you know what I mean.

And it’s the same feeling I get watching this film. Slam, bang, crashes, breaking of glasses (like one reviewer here said, too many glasses were broken during the making of this film), running, shooting, jumping, thumping, spinning (on the rope), explosions, fire, its all there. My fiancé was gripping my hand during those scenes. Alas, it was the grip that kept me on focus. I was not interested most of the time. I just wanted the quieter scene.

I never say this to anyone, but I want to say this to the editor: “You are wrong”. We care about what happens to Bond during this scene. We want to see him to know if he is in pain, if he is suffering, if he likes the killing or not, if he has moments of doubt, if he cares for his life or not…none of this can be seen during these action sequences. In between milliseconds you see grim, cold face of Bond’s doing his thang.

Music.
Contrary to popular belief, there is Bond theme interspersed throughout the film. That’s a good thing. The bad thing is Arnold is still one board. He has to go. His sound evokes irrepressible awful memories of the four Brosnan/Bonds (it happened…not it didn’t…it did…). This is a rebooted Bond. This is a different world. It’s like listening to Dmitri Tiomkin in a Clint Eastwood movie.

Take a bow Arnold. Maybe the producers are nice. Please don’t take advantage of other’s generosity. Move on.

And I don’t even want to talk about the turd that is the theme song. But then, there has been many animal faeces disguised as theme songs in the history of Bond films.


Characters.

Supporting.

Leiter and Mathis are a joy. It’s good to have them back…and yes, they could have longer screentime. I want to see Bond palling around with them a lot more. There are more fun with scenes of Bond with these two then all the action scenes of both CR and QOS combined. Almaric’s Greene is boring. When he stands on top of the balcony and gives that speech, you see Carver, you see Graves (Brosnan Bond did not happen…did not happen). The others were there, I don’t know. I don’t care. Gemma Atherton is total waste. Why was she there? Why was her character sent to bring Bond back? Why not some tough agents…like they did in LTK. Oh, the scriptwriters were probably scared that they are accused of stealing ideas from past. Too late, dudes….

Main characters.
Camille.
Boring. My fiancé said, for a Bond girl, she is pretty plain looking. Well, it didn’t bother me none. But she did not add to the movie. No glamour, no danger. Nothing.

M.
Dench’s M should go. She is incompetent, emotional, insecure, insipid, and basically an idiot (betrayed by agent working 8 years with her). One scene she asks Bond, “How come we didn’t know about this organisation”? I wanted Bond to say, “It’s because you are incredibly stupid, you old hag!”

Why does she have to tag around Bond, travelling all those places? Is she in charge of Bond only? Doesn’t she have other important task to do back in the office? Also, looking at her facial expression most of the time, is she suffering from internal haemorrhage? Also, instead of the pleasure of having a Bond girl in her bathroom, we have M in her bathroom this time. What is happening, dudes?

I understand Dench is known to be an excellent actress (I prefer others, I find Dench to be dull…but then incredible dullness have been mistaken for great performance, so its just a matter of opinion). So, dear producers give her a rest. Let M go and look after an orphanage or something. Get someone more professional. I don’t care if it’s a woman, man, transvestite or a fat orange Tabby.

Bond.

Ah…the glue. The one element that holds the whole movie together. Daniel Craig is James Bond. He owns the role now. Anyone out there claiming to be Bond should be arrested and made to watch all Brosnan Bond films over and over again (no, it did not happen).

HE brings dignity to the role. He brings nobility to the role. He is not exactly Fleming’s Bond. He need not be Fleming’s Bond. Dalton was Fleming’s Bond. Connery was the ultimate movie Bond. Craig now has the advantage of being both.

Forster and the scriptwriters committed a terrible crime by not allowing Bond to have more moments for himself. More moments to reveal himself to the audience. Why a crime? Because they are using a wonderful actor. But Craig made best use of what material he has…and he added to it. I don’t mind seeing him doing even mundane things like making coffee or explaining to his maid that his eggs must be boiled three and a half minutes. That would be more exciting than the badly cut car chase in the beginning.

I beg the producers to keep Craig for more movies. If he asks more money, pay him. If he asks for a small Latin America country, negotiate with the dictator and get it for him (the scriptwriters can help, they are pretty good with the dictator thingy). I am watching this film for Craig again.

And thanks to Craig, I am giving this film 6/10 rating.

3 comments:

shashi raj said...

macha...
the movie just a hype n action jus like other action movie but there isnt any element of bond daaaaa...
i really disappointed coz there isnt any element of bon like the sofisticated cars or gadget which make the bond as the one n only saviour of the world m really disappointed machaaa

Anonymous said...

Hello Rakesh,

I enjoyed reading this review. As much as I enjoyed watching the film! hahah!

ANyway, my opinion is, the producers were trying to Bourne-nise Bond. Just to capture the American market.

But of course, Daniel Craig is THE Bond of modern times.

Good job mate.

JMD-

Rakesh Kumar said...

Ah, the esteemed Jebat. I am humbled. You are right about the American market. Thanks for visiting my site.

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